aw   Aruba

Superior Listening Comprehension in French (How to get there?)

February 2017

Hi Steve:

I have a few weeks before I start a class that requires students to understand speeches given by French-speaking presidents and world leaders.

Currently, my French comprehension is, honestly, at about 70 to 80% at the moment.

I have a tutor who records 30-minute monologues on subjects that I AM INTERESTED IN, so the input is interesting and compelling. He speaks at native-level speed, and the expressions and sentences are not made any easier just because I’m a student.

But, today, I went to the Elysee’s website to watch “Le Point Presse,” which is similar to the “Press Briefings” held at the White House, and I had trouble following along. I also couldn't follow some of the speeches by François Hollande.

While I understood about 80% - that’s not enough. I need to be able to clearly understand the points these speakers are making so I can discuss them in class. I can't discuss what I haven't understood.

I am reading like the wind; things like L'Express, Le Monde (this one is tough), Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde Diplomatique, Euro News, etc.

Am I fighting a losing battle? I don’t know how much improvement I can expect over the next 2 months ... But in order to pass this class, I need to be able to listen and understand this highly educated and deeply-idiomatic French.

Admittedly, for the past two months, I haven't been listening to much French because I was focusing on exams. But now I have more time to dedicate to this goal. I feel like I am soooo close, but yet so far away.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks a million,



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